Happy Bourbon Heritage Month!

For the fourth straight year, Gov. Steve Beshear today declared September “Bourbon Heritage Month” in the commonwealth of Kentucky, which produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon. (The other 5 percent, he has quipped, is counterfeit.)

“This has been a tremendous year for our legendary bourbon industry,” Gov. Beshear said in a news release. “Our distilleries are expanding at the largest rate since Prohibition, adding nearly $200 million in capital investment this year alone.

“Bourbon is a signature product that with each sip showcases the pride, care, craftsmanship and hard work of our people.”

This gives me a reason to drop one of the best statistics I’ve seen for a while: There are currently more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky (4.7 million) than there are people (4.3 million, according to the latest U.S. Census figures), says Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

Record numbers of people are coming to Kentucky to travel the six distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, he said. And more will pour in for the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Sept. 13-18 in Bardstown, which drew visitors from 40 states and 13 countries last year.

If you are not fortunate enough to live in Kentucky, you can still raise your glass: In 2007, the U.S. Senate declared September “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” But do come visit us if you can.

(Photo: Mash tub at Woodford Reserve Distillery)

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The Bourbon Babe